Sunday, April 9, 2017

Now Available: Horrors of the Lifechain Volume II

Hey, just wanted to warn everybody that Horrors of the Lifechain Volume II is now available for sale at I just added the file about five minutes ago. Go buy it if you need some nasty space beasties in your campaign.

This was an interesting book for me because of one reason: It marks my upgrade to a slightly less outdated layout program! After nearly a decade using Adobe Pagemaker 7.0, I finally made the switch to Adobe Indesign CS2. Yeah, CS2 is only a few years more current than Pagemaker, but those few years of programming evolution makes a difference. Earlier this year I upgraded to a new laptop running Windows 10 and Pagemaker wasn't playing very nicely with my new operating system. Images were coming out pixaleted, text was muddy, and there were occasional glitches.

I don't begrudge it because I'd been using Pagemaker nearly 20 years after Adobe stopped supporting the program and like I said, got nearly a decade of use out of the program. (Best $40 I ever spent was picking that disk up used.)

So far, I'm liking CS2 a lot. Horrors of the Lifechain Vol II was a fairly simple PDF but it came out looking about as good as any of my Pagemaker releases, so I'm at a baseline level of competence with the program already. And though Horrors didn't include any charts (which are the bane of my existence) I did a few test PDFs with charts to make sure I got the hang of that aspect of the program down as well. I'll only get better as new releases roll on, and I've got another few projects on deck.

Talk to you soon, and let me know what you think of the new layout!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cover Art: Horrors of the Lifechain II and additional critters

At right is the cover illustration for Horrors of the Lifechain Volume II, which is a Malcolm McClinton illustration from Inkwell Images. I've decided the creature depicted will be the (currently) first critter in the bestiary, a CR 15 master villain inspired heavily by the Overlords from Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. They actually fit in perfectly with existing Lifespawn and cosmic threats, and are a thematic team with another race of similarly manipulative, emotionless alien geniuses: my own version of Kube from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. (I've included these critters as a minor Singular-blooded Lifespawn called the Quadi, and you'll meet them in the final draft.)

Lets take a look at the mechanics for my cover-boy.

Administrum – CR 15
Large LN Outsider (lawful, psionic)
XP 51,200
Init +2 Senses Darkvision 60 ft, true seeing, Lifesense 300 miles, Perception +27    
Languages Celestial, Galactic Common, Stonecutter, telepathy 100 ft

AC 29 Touch 11Flatfooted 27 (-1 size, +2 DEX, +4 natural, +13 inertial armor*)
HP 20d10 +80 hp (190 HP)
FORT +10 REF +14 WILL +16
(+8 bonus against transmutation and psychometabolism effects)
Immune ability damage/drain, disease energy drain, poison, Lifespawn mutation
Resist Electricity 10, Force 20, Fire 20, Pleasure 10

Spd 40 ft Flight 80 ft (poor)
Melee +24/+19/+14/+9 unarmed strike (1d10+4 bludgeoning plus stunned 1d6 rounds (F-DC 24 negates), 19-20/x2)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th Concentration +26)
Constanttrue seeing
1x/day – interplanetary teleportation

Psi-Like Abilities (ML 20th Concentration +30) 
Constantinertial armor (included in stat block above, augmented to +13)
At Willmodify matter
-          quickened magic missile (5d4 force)
1x/day – mind switch (W-DC 23)
-          psychic chiurgury
-          psionic revivify
-          time regression
1x/year – astral seed

Str 20 Dex 15 Con 18 Int 22 Wis 19 Cha 21
Base Atk +20 CMB +26 CMD 38
Feats Combat Manifestation, Craft Wondrous Items, Craft Psionic Items, Deep Focus, Deep Impact, Iron Heart, Iron Will, Improved Iron Will, Forge Ring, Psionic Weapon, Wild Talent
Skills Autohypnosis +29, Bluff +28, Craft (alchemy, chemical)* both at +29, Craft (jeweler)* +19 Diplomacy +28, Intimidate +28, Knowledge (arcana, civics, history, religion, the planes)* all at +29, Perception+27 Sense Motive +18
*swap Craft and Knowledge skills as desired to differentiate various Administrum

Environment any
Organization usually accompanied by a variety of powerful Inevitable servitors, humanoid allies and underlings of up to company strength, or vast private, high-tech armies

Special Abilities
Collective Judgment (SP)
A group of six or more Administrum can work together to impose vast genetic and psionic changes upon the evolution of a single species. Doing so requires six or more Administrums to meditate together for at least 6 hours plus on additional hour per Administrum beyond six.

At the end of this time, the Administrum chooses a single intelligent species on the world. All children in utero or under two years of age are affected by the uplift spell, becoming more intelligent and gaining Psionic abilities. They are considered a new species, separate from their parent. Simultaneously, the unmodified parent species is affected by reproductive apocalypse (F-DC 25). The FORT Save DC for this effect increases by +1 per additional Administrum participating in the ritual.

Honed Lifesense (EX)
Though it is not a Lifespawn itself, and considers Lifespawn mutation to be a corruption of healthy cellular activity, the Administrum has a Lifesense with a range of 300 miles.

Iron Heart (SU)
The Administrum can never be compelled to a sexual act against his will. He is immune to any form of mind-influencing effect that would compel or influence sexual behavior or a sexual response. Whether or not the Administrum is immune to a specific ability depends on context. For instance, he is immune to charm person if the spell would compel him to sexual behavior with the caster or one of the caster’s allies, but not if the same charm merely compelled him to drop his weapon and surrender.

Perfect Genome (EX)
The Administrum cannot be genetically engineered, can never gain the Lifespawn subtype nor Lifespawn feats. The Administrum receives a +8 racial bonus on saving throws against transmutation and psychometabolism effects.

Administrum are the self-appointed overseers of advanced, technologically adept societies who are on the verge of a vast evolutionary leap into a race of powerful psions. Administrum guide this transition, sparking it artificially with their vast powers when necessary, regardless of the opinions of the unevolved. Administrum take no pleasure in the extinction of non-psionic species, but do not see evolutionary genocide as a tragedy, any more than it is a tragedy when a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. Administrum consider it their prime duty to protect and guide the new breed of psions their tampering conceives.

Administrum follow an exacting pattern when initiating contact with a ‘project’ species. Initial contact is handled by intermediaries, as the Administrum trade technology with planetary governments, offering revolutionary technology like fusion power, FTL travel, advanced genetic engineering, teleportation tech or occult technology as gifts to radically upgrade the world’s standard of living and technology base. Over time, Administrum take greater roles in planetary leadership, eventually drawing the world into their vast, far-flung empire. After a previously agreed period, usually 7 to 10 planet-years from first contact, the Administrum reveal themselves publicly, as the race knows its demonic appearance tends to terrify most species. Secretly, an Administrum cabal will use its uplift ability about this time, changing the race forever and dooming the adults of the species to gradual extinction.

Administrum hate and fear Lifespawn. They will not tamper with a world they know to have been previously visited by Great Watchmakers (Just BTW, Great Watchmakers are a CR 30 homage to Jack Kirby's Celestials, also found in this book!), World Seeders or other Lifespawn demi-gods. Even the plausible rumor of Watchmaker interest can cause Adminstrum to abruptly break off contact and write-off a world, regardless of their level of prior tampering. Administrum use intermediaries and catspaws to exterminate Lifespawn infections wherever they are found, especially those of the Mother and Nemesis bloodlines, which they find especially distasteful and unpredictable.

Administrum resemble devils right out of the collective mythology of mankind and other sentient species. The race disdains decoration and usually goes nude or nearly so, dressed only in simple robes, toga or loincloth. The species moves slowly and always speaks softly, in a calm, rational and controlled manner. They are not prone to displays of temper, even in the heat of battle or at the moment of their own deaths. Administrum are legalistic and pedantic in the extreme, though they consider contracts made with less-evolved species subject to revision in the name of the greater good…. A good their eugenic schemes define for the galaxy. 

Lets take a look at one more creature from HotL2 before we close up shop for the afternoon. The Bleakmoon Tyrant first appeared in 2009's Galaxy Command as the iconic setting bad guy. For this revision, I choose great stock art from One Man Studios/Critical Hit Studios. Mechanically, the revised Bleakmoon Tyrant fights like a combination of Darksied and obscure 80s cartoon baddie Mon-Starr (from Silverhawks). He's another high-level adversary, somebody to wade through as a final 'mini-boss' before standing up to campaign defining adversaries like Artemis or Genesis.

Bleakmoon Tyrant – CR 22
Huge LE Outsider (evil, lawful, lifespawn, native)
XP 615,000
Init +3 Senses see in darkness, sensors equal to a military-grade capitol ship, Lifesense 10,000, Perception +43           
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic, Galactic Common, Infernal, Stonecutter
Aura Dark Matter Corona (30 ft, 4d6 force and slowed, F-DC 41 partial)

AC 32 Touch 20 Flatfooted 29 (-2 size, +3 DEX, +1 shield, +12 equipment, +8 deflection)
HP 37d10 +296 hp (500 HP)
Damage Reduction 10/epic and good
FORT +34 REF +17 WILL +24
Immune Fire, Force, disease poison, suffocation, vacuum, radiation
Resist Cold 20, Electricity 20
Spell Resistance 32
Weaknesses Lifecount 3

Spd 50 ft Flight 200 ft (good), Space Flight 2,500 ft (perfect)
Melee +46/+46/+46/+41/+36/+31 cruel, vorpal handaxe (1d6+13, 20/x3)
Ranged +38/+33/+28/+23 obliteration beam (10d10 force, 20/x3, 10,000 ft range increment)
Ranged Touch +38/+33/+28/+23 victimizing gaze (target loses all Resistances/Immunities for 5 rounds, W-DC 41 to negate, 20,000 ft maximum range)
Special Qualities No Breath, Greater Starflight
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 37th  Concentration +43) 
5x/day – baleful polymorph (DC 21)
-          bestow curse (W-DC 21)
3x/daykinetic kill weapon (R-DC 24)
1x/dayaeons crash down (W-DC 25)
-          dominate monster (W-DC 25)
-          nuclear impact (DC 24)

Str 30 Dex 16 Con 26 Int 18 Wis 16 Cha 22
Base Atk +37 CMB +49 CMD 62
Feats Cleave, Dazzling Display, Deadly Stroke, Double Slice, Far Shot, Great Cleave, Greater Sunder, Greater Weapon Focus (hand axe), Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Sunder, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Point-Blank Shot, Power Attack, Shatter Defenses, Two-Weapon Defense, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (hand axe)
Skills Craft (blacksmithing, gunsmith, mechanical) all at +25, Flight +36, Intimidate +46, Knowledge (arcana, local, the planes, tactics, technology) all at +44, Perception +43, Stealth +36
Gear pair of +3 cruel, vorpal handaxes

Environment any (native to the prison world, Bleakmoon, in the Outer Necklace)
Organization accompanied by vast armies of minions, including fearsome Korbus legions
Treasure vastly beyond triple standard (but good luck taking it)

Special Abilities
Bleakmoon Mutation (SU)
As a full round action, the Bleakmoon Tyrant can empower a willing ally with cosmic potency that bestows the Fiendish and Giant simple templates upon that creature. This transformation lasts for 24 hours or until the ally is slain. The Bleakmoon Tyrant can empower up to 35 HD worth of allies with this ability per day.

Dark Matter Corona (SU)
A corona of strange gravitic effects surrounds the Bleakmoon Tyrant at all times. Anyone who ends their turn within 30 ft of the Bleakmoon Tyrant suffers 4d6 Force damage and is slowed for as long as they remain in the aura and for 1 round after leaving it. A successful DC 41 FORT Save halves the Force damage and negates the slowed condition, but this save must be repeated for each round of exposure.

If the Bleakmoon Tyrant chooses to suppress this aura, his Deflection bonus to Armor Class is also suppressed.

Victimizing Gaze (SU)
As an attack action, the Bleakmoon Tyrant can fire a lance of burning crimson light from his dark gaze. This is a ranged touch attack with a 20,000 ft maximum range and no range increment. The target is severely debilitated on a hit, losing all forms of Damage Reduction, Spell Resistance or Powered Resistance as well as all forms of Energy Resistance or Energy Immunity. This loss remains in place for a maximum of 5 rounds, with the target gaining a DC 41 WILL Save at the end of each round to end the effect early.

The Bleakmoon Tyrant is one of the most dangerous and ambitious cosmic warlords to ever have emerged from the churning, hyper-Darwinistic cauldron of the innermost reaches of Phallus Space. Over the last ten millennia or so, the Bleakmoon Warlord has carved out a sphere of influence and power stretching across endless parsecs of crowded, teeming and hazardous space. The Tyrant’s frightful, cosmos-rattling power and imperial ambitions has attracted the attentions of even the Old Gods, and it is testament to the Bleakmoon Tyrant’s tactical acumen that Their attention has not eradicated him.

The Bleakmoon Tyrant is a slaver without compare and without mercy. The Tyrant is a specialized dealer in unique and exotic Lifespawn slaves, mind-warped and modelocked Battlechangers and other highly valuable prey. The Tyrant maintains a network of space pirates, slavers, star-criminals, mercenaries and xeno-horrors stretching across galaxies and spanning multiple planes of existence. The Tyrant rules from his redoubt on the fortified moon Bleakmoon, a skull-like, crater-scarred world under the dying, crimson light of one of the Phallus’ myriad captured suns.

The Bleakmoon Tyrant’s origins and true nature are unknown, as the immortal Tyrant is known only by his gleaming armor, the color of blood. Thought the Tyrant’s gender is unverified, common rumor holds that the Tyrant is a male, likely of either the potent Singular or Genesis bloodlines.

The Bleakmoon Tyrant truly lives up to his name. Though a tactical genius, he is prone to underestimating his enemies, and enjoys sadistically taunting his foes or torturing them rather than killing them out-right. His child-like rages and melancholy are legendary, and woe to any underling who brings him bad news. Not only does the Tyrant shoot the messenger, he usually wipes out their entire
bloodline for good measure. The Tyrant is a petty sadist, who makes excellent use of both his spell-like abilities, more conventional tortures and the skills of entire worlds of slave-breakers to destroy his slaves mentally and spiritually while reshaping their physicality to his needs.

The Bleakmoon Tyrant is an immense armored biped clad head to toe in blood red cyber-armor forged from exotic, ultra-dense star-steel. The narrow slit of the Tyrant’s helm reveals pulsing red light with the exact radiation signature of the dying star that Bleakmoon itself orbits. The Bleakmoon Tyrant is a joyful and dangerous combatant, a crimson blur of death and pain wielding twin mono-molecular axes and firing optic blasts capable of scuttling a military corvette. His electronically modulated voice is a demonic snarl of hatred.